Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Thing About Sequels

So, I've been thinking about sequels a little. I think it's because right now, I'm nearly done with a second book of a trilogy, and I noticed that it took perhaps 100 pages for the story to really get going. Those first pages weren't totally a recap of the first book, but a lot of time was spent getting us back up to speed with the story and reminding us of all the particulars of the setting.

Sometimes I'm okay with that. Most of the time it drives me crazy.

This is why I usually wait awhile between reading books in a series. That is, if I'm reading it after they've come out anyway. Of course, the ones that I would love to read right away instantly are the ones I read as they are published! For instance, if Catching Fire were available last Christmas right after I finished The Hunger Games, I would have been right on it. Same with the Twilight series.

But, for the most part, I like to space out the books of a series, give it some breathing room, make it so I forget enough that when that inevitable recap happens, I appreciate it.

Still, even with a nice break between books, I'd rather that the recap be very very small and that we jump right into the next story without delay!

Do you like to wait between the books of a series? Or would you rather read them all one right after the other. Do you enjoy that recap part? Or would you rather be left on your own to remember what happened before?

Oh, another thing I'm thinking about series... it seems like the first book is almost always the best. Sort of like the movies and all it's parts 2's, 3's and 4's.


  1. Mostly I agree with you, but I think there are exceptions to the rule. Harry Potter, for instance. Not everyone likes HP, but Rowling did an excellent job weaving in past information throughout the book, or using a couple terse sentences near the beginning to explain everything. I read the first 6 books all in a row the first time I read the series without ever getting annoyed by recaps. I also think she mostly got progressively better as the books went on.

    Westerfeld writes good sequels as well, with very little recap. It's like he assumes if you're reading the sequel, you've read the first one already.

    On the other hand, I wasnt' able to read more than 4 of the Leminy Snicket books because the recap, completely with the exact same phrasing, really got on my nerves. I've never gone back and read more, and it's been 4-5 years.

    Mostly, I try to space out sequels unless I'm so drawn in I can't stop. But even spaced out, if the wording and recap are repetitive, I get bored, and usually end up abandoning the series.

    (Sorry to hijack your blog, this was a great post! Very thought-provoking.)

  2. I really despise recaps when they are at the very beginning and act as though we haven't read the first one. I like gentle reminders scattered across the book. Does that make sense? That said, ideally I'd like to read them all together but that rarely happens.

  3. I don't like long, detailed recaps. Give me the new story line!
    I am a bit quirky though in that I will often re-read the earlier books in the series before the newest one comes out. I did that with most of the Harry Potter series. In fact, right now I am re-reading a book I read last year because the sequel just came out...
    I don't always do it that way, but often enough.

  4. It's not just with series - I can only read one, at the most two, books by the same author before I need to read something different. I almost always space the sequels. Some of the time it's because the next in the series hasn't been released yet, but all the time I need variety.

  5. I really can't voice an opinion because, I am ashamed to admit, I have not really read many sequels prior to this year. My daughter loves sequels, however, and I have decided to challenge myself and begin reading some on my own. My biggest fear has been what you stated --- that the recap would take up too much time and make for a slow beginning, but I am very curious to see how authors develop characters over a multi-book format. There are a few mysteries that I plan to read over the next few months, and I have joined the Harry Potter Challenge as well.

  6. I generally like to read them all in a row, but I think that's because a lot of the books I read have very little recap in the beginning.

    I think I would wait for sequels if I had to read a lot of recap.

  7. Start me out as an independent reader,thank you! I love it when a book can stand alone...when the reader who has read a previous book gets a bonus for knowing and understanding the tidbits dropped throughout the story. Like a friendship - when you haven't seen each other for years, some of us just pick up where we were and the details come as we visit and laugh.

    I read a sequel because I like the author, their pacing and prose, maybe I like the characters or maybe I'm curious; will the story continue? Well, prove it to me, dear author. Work your magic.

    Thanks for an insightful question!

  8. Amanda: Thanks for you wonderful comment! I was trying to remember what I thought about the Harry Potter books and if the recap was to my liking or not. I just can't rememeber!

    Maw Books: Gentle reminders... perfect way to describe what works best. I love it.

    Jeanette: I'm not a re-reader of series. I'm usually too anxious for the next one (if it's one I'm really into and waiting) to re-read.

    Booklogged: Interesting about the same thing being applied to books by the same author. I think I'm the same way actually. I need to space out the authors too. Well, except mabye Markus Zusak! :)

    Molly: Well good luck with the sequel reading! That's wild that you haven't read many up to this point. I hope you enjoy them. Maybe you'll find some with that annoying recap thing and some with the perfect "gentle reminders."

    Serena: What ones do you enjoy that don't have the recap problem?

    Inside a Book: Yes! Exactly. Stand a lone books with a bonus if you've read the ones before. I love that.

  9. I hate the recap as well.

    I disagree with the idea that the first book is the best. I think the Sookie Stackhouse books are great but the author just seemed to get better and better with books 2-5. Also, I just started the Stephanie Plum series and thought it was okay at first, but I just finished High Five and thought it was the best of the series so far.

  10. I usually space a little time in between books in a series. The Outlander series I've been spacing a bit (plus those are so long it's nice to put some short ones in between), the Southern Vampire series I still haven't finished, and I'm currently reading the Jessica Darling series. I read the first two pretty close to back to back but then waited a bit and got the last three from the library. The only reason I'll be reading those back to back (to back) is because they will be overdue if I don't! Even rereading Harry Potter this year has consisted of many breaks.

  11. I like to read all the books in a series in a row. I tend if I read other books in between, I get them confused.
    But, I totally hate the recap. Do you remember the Babysitter's Club books? Those were the worst for that. At the beginning of every single bloody book, she took a whole chapter to describe each character's personality, fashion style and past life. It drove me batty, but I am one of those people that had to read every single word of the book and I couldn't allow myself to skip over that part! Now, that's an extreme example, but someone like J. K. Rowling (as previously mentioned) that can subtly weave all necessary information right into the story is someone I can appreciate!



Related Posts with Thumbnails